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Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Interview Questions and Answers

Prepare for your interview by finding answers to these commonly asked questions by employers.

Questions during interviews may vary based on the career field, job position, employer preference, etc. However, some questions are universal. Check out these common interview questions below with tips on how you might answer them.

General Employer Questions

1. Tell me about yourself?

Take this opportunity to tell a short story. Depending on your situation, this might include background on how you got into your current profession, or what made you interested in a new career field. If you attended school, talk about what you studied and how it helped guide you towards your career path. You might also talk about your work history and what inspired you to take the next steps toward a new job or field. By combining these into a small summary of yourself, you’ll provide the interviewer with a better understanding of who you are and why you are interested in their company.

2. What you know about the position, and why you would be a good fit?

Make sure you’ve researched the position you are applying for. Talk about what initially interested you about this job, and why you feel that you’d make a great fit. Reference specifics in the job description that stuck out to you, and what you would like to learn more about. If applicable, talk about how this position relates to work you’ve done in the past that you found fulfilling.

3. What would you say are your top 3 strengths?

Think of three tangible strengths that you are comfortable and confident discussing. Try to identify strengths that closely relate to those required for the job you are applying for. Showing strengths through lived work experiences is a great way to provide depth and detail to your list.

4. What is one of your weaknesses?

This is not the employer looking for you to throw yourself under the bus. Think of something you struggle with, but are actively seeking to improve. For many this is public speaking, while for others it may be as simple as keeping their desk organized. Be humble enough to admit that you are not perfect, but confident enough to provide evidence that you are working on your shortcomings.

5. In your opinion, what does a successful day look like? 

This will vary depending on the position you are applying for. However, most professionals would appreciate a day where meetings start on time, technology functions as it should, and coworkers are easily accessible for questions and collaboration. Think of ideals such as these, and discuss how you would work to implement them into a successful work day within their company.

6. Why are you interested in working for our company?

Similar to the question “Why do you think you would be a good fit for this position?” be specific in your answers. Many companies will have an About page on their website, while others may provide their company’s mission, vision, and values statement. Find particulars about the company that you feel passionate about, whether it’s their views on customer service, employee engagement, community involvement, etc. Consider what sets this company apart from those you may have worked for previously, and why you are looking for this change.

7. Why did you decide to become a [job title/profession]? 

Reflect on what inspired you to follow the career path you’re on now, and how it’s impacted you personally and professionally. If your current role is a stepping stone to a new path, discuss what you’ve learned and how it’s prepared you for a career transition. If you are changing careers into an entirely different field, answer with honest reasons as to why and what makes you excited about this transition. Provide examples of how your previous work experience prepared you for the job you’re applying for now. Even if the two positions are not related, transferable skills such as being a team-player, staying well-organized, and learning to multitask can go a long way in any new career path.

8. How would you handle a busy work day where there are more tasks than time allows for?

Do you have personal rituals to de-escalate your stress levels, such as meditation or relaxed breathing techniques? Share these during your interview, and explain how you implement these during your work day. If you enjoy extracurricular activities outside the office, share how these help to create a healthy work-life balance so you are better able to focus at work. 
Sometimes it feels like there aren't enough work hours in the day, which makes it hard to categorize competing priorities and answer this interview question confidently. If this is something you struggle with, try out the Covey Time Management Matrix to learn more about task management. If this strategy works for you, impress your interviewer by giving specific examples of how you’ve used this model.

9. What do you think is the most challenging part about being a [job title/profession]? 

Try to not let this evolve into a list of your weaknesses or complaints about the job. Challenging doesn’t always have to mean negative. Consider what parts of your current position, or one you are aspiring to obtain, are difficult but rewarding. Show that you are willing to face adversity and work towards long-term solutions.

10. What’s your ideal work environment?

If you are applying for a position that came with a detailed job description, sometimes the type of work environment you can expect will be described. Before applying for a job, look for this information and make sure that you feel it’s a good fit for you. If this is not provided on the description, consider your past work experience or that of close acquaintances in that profession. What did you/they like most, and what are you hoping will be similar in your future role?

11. What salary are you requesting?

Try to provide an income range that matches your work experience. You can fill in the blanks to the following answer: “Based on my previous experience in [job title/profession], I’m looking to negotiate a salary between [$] and [$].” If you don’t have a significant amount of work history to reference, try researching the job you are applying for and what the average entry-level pay is for that position. Keep in mind that this may vary based on the company, state, your previous work experience, etc. Some jobs may also take benefits into consideration when negotiating a salary, which might vary the pay range.

For more suggestions on how to answer common interview questions, check out this blog.


In summary, having answers prepared to common interview questions will help make your big day go smoother and give you more confidence. Practice reviewing these questions with a partner, and get comfortable taking time to consider your response before answering. Alternatively, you may write down your answers and read them out loud so you’re comfortable saying them to yourself. Remember to be genuine, and believe the words you speak, as this will make providing your answers easier. Happy interviewing!

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